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Repatriation stalled after dispute

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, April 15 (UPI) -- A dispute between tribes in Pakistan's North-West Frontier province has forced security authorities to enforce roadblocks stranding hundreds of Afghan refugees.

The United Nations has temporarily suspended its repatriation operation in Peshawar after the route connecting Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Peshawar-Torkham highway, was shut down by security officials because of a local dispute. The security move left more than 360 Afghan refugee families attempting to repatriate to Afghanistan stranded, the United Nations reported.

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The Afghan refugees traveled to Pakistan after a surge in violence in Afghanistan forced them to flee. Pakistani authorities have been working to close some of the refugee camps and repatriate the Afghans to their country or relocate them to a different region in Pakistan.

The security blockade raised concerns about Afghan refugees currently living in the Jalozai refugee camp. Officials had implemented a Tuesday deadline to close the camp. But a U.N. High Commission for Refugees official says the repatriation will be forced to wait until the Peshawar-Torkham highway has been reopened.

"UNHCR acknowledges that Jalozai must be closed as previously agreed and that its residents must cooperate by leaving on time," UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said in a statement. "Nonetheless, we hope the Pakistani government can give them a little more time in view of the current impasse on the Peshawar-Torkham road."

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